Ground broken on HCISD bond-approved schools. What’s next?

Constructing the campuses approved by voters in May is priority for Hays CISD as it continues moving forward with its $250 million bond initiative.

As work continues on High School (HS) No. 3 and Elementary School (ES) No. 14, district officials are now readying for the next phase, which includes rezoning attendance boundaries.

Tim Savoy, Hays CISD public information officer, said redrawing attendance boundary lines will begin this fall for both ES 14, which is currently under construction, and ES 15, which is currently in the permitting process.

ES 14, located along High Road near Uhland, is expected to be completed by August 2018. Construction has not started for ES 15, located along Old San Antonio Road in Buda, will be a replacement site for Buda Elementary’s lower campus.

The process for rezoning, which Savoy said is “one of the hardest things a school district has to do,” will begin in the next two months.

Before that time, the board of trustees will appoint members to a rezoning committee. Savoy said the district is required to start with at least two different map options for boundary adjustments. From there, the committee can craft additional options based on information gathered via demographics and student populations.

Both ES 14 and ES 15 are projected to house roughly 900 students. In addition, the district plans to also gather public input, as well as be transparent as possible with the process, Savoy said. With past experience on rezoning, Savoy anticipates residents will be highly interested.

“It’s difficult to redraw boundary lines. People are invested in the campuses they go to,” Savoy said. “There are a lot of factors that are directly affecting where a child is going to go to school. That’s grounds for a robust discussion.”

Also starting this fall will be the process of naming ES 14. A separate committee will be pieced together to come up with a name for the new campus, drawing inspiration from public input.

Savoy said ES 15 will not go through a name change and will remain Buda Elementary

While the district plans to start rezoning and naming talks for the elementary schools, Hays CISD will not begin similar discussions for the third high school until Fall 2018.

Construction is underway for Hays CISD’s third high school, located along FM 967 next to Carpenter Hill Elementary School. HS 3, which is projected to house 2,250 students, is expected to open August 2019.

Savoy said districts start rezoning discussions as close to the opening of a campus as possible. With HS 3, Savoy said waiting a year would allow Hays CISD to observe the growth in the area.

“The closer you are to the opening of a school, the better off you are,” Savoy said. “You’re more accurate.”

Growth is expected to drive the district’s  need for potential bond measures in 2019 and 2021.

A possible 2019 bond could include a seventh middle school campus; a 2021 bond could see a fourth high school make its way to voters.

Savoy said an increase in growth could make those projects much more urgent. However, a drop-off in growth could ease the need for future bonds.

Growth in bond capacity, which is based on tax revenue from new homes and businesses, is also a factor in the potential for calling future bond elections. Hays CISD has also been aggressive in paying down existing bond debt, which has also made room for additional bond capacity.

“If there is some other type of unpredictable economic slowdown, it could affect the need for a bond in 2019 and 2021,” Savoy said.

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